Opinions expressed here are my own and do not represent the views of the congregation I joyfully serve. But my congregation loves me!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Experience of God


(Conversations with Bob! We're Lookin' For God In All the Wrong Places!)


Bob,

Thank you for your last post.

I think we have some misunderstandings. You wrote:
And if I understand you correctly, John, you have rejected special revelation.
No. We need to unpack that term before you suggest I reject it on your terms. I trust in the revelation of God through Jesus. You also wrote:
Thus one cannot go from creation or thinking or reason to God. One can only, (through the power of the Holy Spirit), receive the revelation of God in the person of Christ through Scripture.
I suggest then that Schleiermacher’s way, and therefore the path of liberal Christianity throughout the 19th and into the early 20th Century, (please note I use the term liberal Christianity here as a technical term to describe a school of thought that, went from Schleiermacher down to Harnack), cannot lead to God.
A pretty strong statement, Bob. I, of course, disagree. And you wrote:
Schleiermacher bases his argument for the Christian faith on human feelings. Certainly faith involves human emotions. But is faith primarily a “feeling of absolute dependence?” What happens when we don’t feel the feelings?
That is not correct. Neither reason nor human emotions were the basis for Schleiermacher. It was experience. The feeling of absolute dependence (FAD) is about consciousness. I am not here to defend Schleiermacher. The guy lived in the early 19th century! I think he would have held his own pretty well with Father Barth if he had lived in Barth's time.

Experience is not emotion. Experience is not reason. Experience is not "general revelation." Experience is grace. Experience is the experience of God. God comes to us through experience. As I wrote in my previous post:
My faith or trust in God as creator does not come by proof or scientific method. When it comes, it comes usually by grace, that is, I cannot engineer it. I experience it. I need to place myself in an attitude and in a place where I can open myself to that trust.
You also wrote:
Much of theology today again begins with the human situation, often, (as in Liberation Theologies), with particular human situations, and argues that to find God one must start with the human situation. I believe the opposite is true. God must start with us.
"God must start with us." Exactly! That is the human experience of God!

A parable:

Three men are sitting around a campfire. Each of them was formerly blind. Jesus restored their sight. They each tell the story of how that was accomplished.

The first says:
I was with my friend and I shouted out to Jesus: "Have mercy on us Son of David!" He asked us, "Do you believe I am able to do this?" We said, "Yes, Lord!" He touched our eyes and said, "According to your faith let it be done to you."
The second says:
No, you are wrong. That isn't how Jesus heals. I was in Bethsaida when my friends brought me to Jesus. He led me out the village, put saliva on my eyes, and laid his hands on me. He asked me if I could see, but the people looked like trees walking. Then he laid his hands on my eyes again and I could see clearly!
The third says:
No, you are both wrong. Neither of you can see. I was sitting and Jesus took saliva and made mud and put it on my eyes. Then he told me to wash in the pool of Siloam. After that I could see!
The first said:
No! That isn't how it works! You have to say you believe and your faith makes you see after Jesus touches you! Only I can see!
The second said:
No! Faith has nothing to do with it. You have to be touched twice by Jesus. Once with spit, and then again! Only I can see!
The third said:
No! Jesus has to take his spit and make mud. Then you have to wash in the pool! Only I can see!

And they argued on and on and on and on and on....

Hi ho.

So it goes.

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